I am taking Joany to Chaco Canyon for her first time. We left yesterday at noon and got to Aztec by 3:30. I drove the back way, past Abiquiu Lake.
The road curves around the north side of the Jemez Mountains, passing Coyote and Gallina. It was too beautiful and fun to drive to stop for pictures.
I like to visit the Aztec Ruins before Chaco because they are compact and have a great restored kiva so it makes it easier to visualize what Chaco must have been like.
Also there is a lovely picnic area.
And motels and restaurants. We had a relaxing evening. And the sweet Step Back Inn near the ruins invited me to make my own pot of coffee when I got up. They promise cinnamon rolls later. Then we can grab a sandwich and head out for Chaco.